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The Breaking Point by Daphne du Maurier

The Breaking Point (1959)

by Daphne du Maurier

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Showing 4 of 4
Another excellent collection of short stories by Daphne du Maurier. Every story demonstrates an excellent understanding of what makes people tick, and most of the stories have some element of the strange or surreal. My particular favourites were “The Blue Lenses” and “The Menace”. “The Blue Lenses” creeped me out the most, because it was about eye surgery and I’m squeamish about eye things to begin with. “The Menace” was actually a sweet story, in a way, with only a touch of the strange (the “feelies” being a new development in motion pictures that smacked of Brave New World).

I also liked “Ganymede”, the story set in Venice; du Maurier and Patricia Highsmith do an excellent job of bringing Venice to life whenever they set stories there. And “The Alibi” set the tone at the beginning of the collection, with a man planning to defeat suburban boredom by randomly choosing a house whose occupants he will murder.

“The Pool” made me think of Narnia for some reason, and as an older sister myself I appreciated the interactions between the girl and her younger brother. This one made me nostalgic for summers we spent with our own grandparents (although I never discovered a secret world). “The Archduchess” was well constructed and I thought very on point with some of its observations, particularly of how depressingly easy it could be for people to sow the seeds of anarchy in a normally peace-loving society. In today’s era of spreading misinformation online, Ronda would have succumbed to revolution that much sooner.

The last two stories in the collection, “The Chamois” and “The Lordly Ones”, I didn’t get as much out of, possibly because I was trying to read this one to a deadline. Of the two, “The Chamois” had stronger characterization for me (the husband was a total jerk). “The Lordly Ones” was one I’d have to think about some more, although I don’t doubt that it achieved the effect it was after.

If you haven’t read any of du Maurier’s short stories, do yourself a favour and pick up one of her collections. ( )
  rabbitprincess | May 4, 2018 |
This collection of short stories is at times bizarre, and at times fascinating. The opening story is about James Fenton who on a Sunday walk with his family suddenly decides he must change his life. The solution he chooses is to murder someone.

The second story concerns the consequences when a young woman has an eye operation and suffers post op illusions. The story "Ganymede" describes the consequences when a man on holidays in Venice shows too much interest in a young boy and the boy's family make him pay for his indescretion.

Another story covered how citizens can be turned into a mob when manipulated by people and other citizens who know better do not risk their lives to stop the mob. "The Limpet" concerns a woman who destroys the lives around her by her indescretions and manipulation yet seems to be clueless about why those people try to avoid her or if they cannot, wither away. ( )
  lamour | Jan 20, 2016 |
In Ganymede, A tourist is transfixed by a fifteen-year-old boy who is small for his age. He befriends the boy, daydreams of whisking him back to London from Venice, but the boy dies an untimely death in a boating acident. Also publ. in The Blue Lenses and Other Stories. ( )
  TonySandel2 | Feb 11, 2013 |
Quite an uneven collection of stories. The very best are those that concern children and their development, notably The pool, in which the ''other world'' shuts its gates forever, due to the first menstruation of the protagonist girl. And also The lordly ones, where a mute boy escapes from his cruel parents by joining a flock of roaming animals (or whatever they are, faeries?) on the moors, the lordly ones, only to be abandoned by them shortly after. These two stories border on the edge of what today is called ''fantasy'', but are written in a sober style to great effect. Of the stories about grown-ups The alibi stands out, even though the idea of a perfectly normal citizen freaking out in secret while no one notices is not very original. The execution of this particular story is excellent. On the minus side, there is Ganymede', completely filled with commonplace and The menace, whose protagonist is an unlikely caricature without the writer knowing so. All in all, certainly worthwhile for the 3-4 excellent stories this contains. ( )
1 vote karamazow | Apr 11, 2010 |
Showing 4 of 4
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There comes a moment in the life of every individual when reality must be faced. When this happens, it is as though a link between emotion and reason is stretched to the limit of endurance, and sometimes snaps. In this collection of stories, men, women, children and a nation are brought to the breaking-point. Whether the link survives or snaps, the reader must judge for himself.
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The Fentons were taking their usual Sunday walk along the Embankment.
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The Breaking Point is a collection of eight short stories by Daphne du Maurier first published in 1959 by Victor Gollancz in the UK and Doubleday in the US. It has also been published under the title The Blue Lenses and Other Stories.


"The Alibi",

"The Blue Lenses",


"The Pool",

"The Archduchess",

"The Menace",

"The Chamois", and

"The Lordly Ones"
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Book description
The apathy of Sunday lay upon the streets. Houses were closed, withdrawn. They don't know, he thought, thos people inside, how one gesture of mine, now, at this minute, might alter their world. A knock on the door, and someone answers - a woman yawning, an old man in carpet slippers, a child sent by its parents in irritation; and according to what I will, what I decide, their whole future will be decided...Sudden murder. Theft. Fire, It was as simple as that. In this collection os suspenseful tales in which fantasies, murderous dreams and half-forgotten worlds are exposed, Daphne du Maurier explores the boundaries of reality and imagination. her characters are caught at those moments when the delicate link between reason and emotion has been stretched to breaking point. Often chilling, sometimes poignant, these stories display the full range of Daphne du Maurier's considerable talent.
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A collection of eight chilling stories by the author of 'The Birds' and 'Don't Look Now', introduced by Sally Beauman.

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